DISCLAIMER: The Department of Financial Institutions does not provide legal advice. This information is provided for guidance purposes only.

On January 4, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions issued a short memorandum ("Sessions Memo") rescinding previously issued guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice as to marijuana-related businesses and the provision of financial services to marijuana-related businesses. This includes rescinding the Justice Department’s so-called “Cole Memo” dated August 29, 2013 (“Cole Memo 1”) and the additional memo from former Deputy Attorney General Cole dated February 14, 2014 (“Cole Memo 2”), which was issued as a companion to the Financial Crime Enforcement Network’s BSA Guidance on Marijuana-Related Businesses dated the same date (“FinCEN Guidance”). The Sessions Memo instructs federal prosecutors (including the U.S. Attorney Offices for the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington) to follow pre-existing principles of prosecutorial discretion established in 1980 and as reflected in the U.S. Attorneys Manual, consistent with the U.S. Department of Justice’s finite resources.

Boards and management of Washington state-chartered financial institutions and other Washington state-licensed financial service providers should carefully review the Sessions Memo of January 4, 2018, together with relevant pronouncements from the appointed, interim or acting U.S. Attorneys of the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington, if any.

For additional information, please see the links to certain official documents listed below, including the links to the Sessions Memo and the rescinded guidance (Cole Memo 1, Cole Memo 2, and other Justice Department memos).